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Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America Hardcover – 23 Jun 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 413 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (23 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319715
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.9 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 838,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

ROBERT CHARLES WILSON was born in California and lives in Toronto. His novel Spin won the Hugo Award in 2006. He won the Philip K. Dick Award for his debut novel A Hidden Place; Canada’s Aurora Award for Darwinia; and the John W. Campbell Award for The Chronoliths.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A post apocalyptic near future work of science fiction that shows a rather different America in the late twenty second century. Where a new order has arisen after the collapse of the one that we know.

It runs for just under seven hundred pages and is divided into five parts plus an epilogue.

It's presented as being the life story, written sometime after the fact, of a man called Julian Comstock. Who lived a remarkable life. And it's written in the first person by his friend Adam, the two having known each other from childhood.

It's in a very literary, rather victorian style, complete with a fair few explanatory footnotes. Whilst that may sound like it could be a bit of slog the prose is actually very smooth and it's an easy read.

Adam tells the story of Julian - aptly described as being 'one of those boys who always got your way in the playground. A few fine words and everyone wanted to be your friend,' from his days when the two were growing up together and then what happened after they had to leave their hometown.

The future America here is quite an interesting creation. A world where a lot of what we know has become dimly remembered myth [the read can recognise certain things, even if Adam can't. Which is a nice touch] And where one particular family have held presidential power for a long time. Fanatical religious sects are also rather prevalent.

Julian is the nephew of the president, and the latter is likely to deal with any relative who threatens his power base. But Julian's primary ambition is to make a film about the life of Charles Darwin.

We follow Adam and Julian through all that happens to them on their journeys throughout this new america.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am really not a fan of post apocalypse novels, but Robert Charles Wilson has done a good job with this one and I found it entertaining and humorous. It starts in a very Mark Twain mode with two young men fleeing the agents of a despotic hereditary President across Canada and into battle in Quebec. The scenery is painted well and the characters were engaging. The plot kept moving through battles with the Europeans over Labrador and finally to New York where the readers encounter the ruling classes of
an expanded United States. Unlike a lot of after-the-fall stories, Wilson adds humour to his tales. Some ironic and some slapstick. Such as the recreation of the life of Charles Darwin. A jolly good read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
[author:Robert Charles Wilson|27276] is one of my favourite writers and this is his most unusual book of his I've read.
The style is reminiscent of the (oft-quoted) 19th century Boy's Adventure and the pastoral writing of the likes of Hawthorne and even Twain. Wilson masters to be very consistent throughout the book and whilst it may not be exciting compared to other 21st century SF, it is a joy to read.

Note: The cover of this paperback edition is horrible (and contradicts the text).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If I recall I bought this on the basis of a recommendation on BoingBoing (a slightly breathless recommendation, too).

Unfortunately, it left me feeling a little disappointed. Robert Charles Wilson is credited as writing SF with a literary bent (admittedly that might have been on a dustjacket quote), certainly I think that's the intention. I think, though, that there are other SF writers that are doing better literary SF than this.

To be clear, I don't think the book is terrible; I enjoyed it well enough and I wouldn't discourage anybody from reading it at all. I'm just not entirely convinced that the book is as successful as others are at producing high quality literary SF.

The book is a future history of the US, at war with Europe, post collapse of our current oil-based economy. It's (naively, unreliably?) narrated by one Adam Hazzard who is placed into a friendship with Julian Comstock, nephew of the President. It follows their adventures across America and into combat withe European Armies who are trying to increase their influence in continental America. I think that this is where I started to get a little bored with the novel; some of these sections weren't quite as compelling as they might have been - it felt a little as if the book sagged in the middle.

In terms of the world he creates, it is one that whilst superficially different from that that we see today, draws on the past, in some senses I imagined it to be steampunky, given that coal and iron come to dominate again and there where some scenes that reminded me a little of the mythical Wild West (not that they were geographically in the west).
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